Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Dear David Bowie:

by Dick Mac

Good morning!

Shortly after I awoke, I was on my phone poking around the virtual world that has become a disquieting part of reality.  I was reading this and that about rich people paying taxes and the borders and the word "motherfucker" and friends' travels and meals and relationships -- you know:  the important stuff.

David Bowie Is
David Bowie Is . . . 
I came across a post that directed me to my phone's App Store and I purchased the "David Bowie is" app.

Once I had it installed, I went through the process of getting it setup.

Must admit:  I thought it would be simpler than it was, but I should have known better.  After all, I was one of your first customers when you and Al Gore invented the internet in 1959, and I've always known that when you do something creative, it is never run-of-the-mill.

It was the crack-of-dawn (or as Cavebat likes to say: the Iggy-Butt-Crack-of Dawn), after all, and I wasn't yet at my best. Nonetheless, I got it running and found a bright spot (as directed by the application) on my bedside table that served as the setting.  I watched a bit and then it appeared right there in front of my pill bottles (yes, I am an older man now and have to take pills each morning) and under the little lamp left in that room by my daughter:  a portrait of you (not in the flesh) and a bunch of ephemera.  

At my bedside
OK, I admit it:  I actually moved my phone and looked at my bedside table to see if the items were projected there in some sort of holographic image from down that rainbow way . . . that we'd spend some time together . . . just me and you and your TVC15.

Alas, your magic only borrowed my bedside table to make it look like you were there beside me.

I ran out of time at that point, because the day had to start.  Get the teenager out of bed and off to high school, and all that.  Now it's almost time to work and I realize:  that's right, you're not really here. 

It's been about a year since I last wrote to you, and the lack of a response reminded me that you are dead.  You used to respond, but no more. Sadly.

So many people die.  It's always sad, of course, but no longer as debilitating as it was in the 1980s when really young people were dying of the plague.  These days, the sadness is for people who made it to old age and got to live full rich, lives.  So, the sadness isn't debilitating, it's the appropriate amount of sadness for the loss that's been incurred.

I miss you.

I know you keep releasing records and apps, and your fans and staff keep your memory alive, but I still miss you. It's just not the same.

Can you believe it's been three years since you released Blackstar?!?!?!  OMG!

As I mentioned earlier, my daughter is a teenager now (which means your daughter is also a teenager).  Boy, oh boy, what a challenge!  Still, who is luckier than us?

Christmas was fun:  we went to a brunch in Riverdale, then we went to Nobu for dinner.  Did you ever go to Nobu?  I don't recall you ever mentioning it.  Christmas dinner was fantastic: 8 courses over three-and-a-half hours.

I finally ordered the Loving The Alien box set!

Remember I told you about my collection of Apple Records 7" vinyl?  You don't?  I thought for certain I'd told you about it.  Well, it's almost finished.  I need a half-dozen more singles and it's complete.  You know how collections are:  just as you think you're close to the end, there is something that eludes you.

Oh!  It's your birthday!  Happy birthday, to you!

I hope it's not sad where you are.  Don't stay in a sad place, where they don't care how you are.

I like our little chats.

Everyone says hi!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

2018 In Review


by Dick Mac


Some thoughts about the year just passed.


Women

Women need to take over the world, and during 2018 it started to feel like this might happen.

The phrase "Me Too" was first used in 2006 by a woman discussing sexual abuse.  It became a hashtag and larger topic in 2017 when an actress used it while describing her experiences of sexual harassment in the movie industry.  Since then, after centuries of sexual abuse, harassment, and slavery, (all of which continue as I type this), women spoke out even more vociferously in 2018 about the men who have abused them, and forced them to trade sex for work.  Every industry is being now affected by this movement, and this is a good thing.  Employers, managers, and supervisors  are no longer immune from exposure and prosecution if they use their authority to extract sexual favors.  So, although we must suffer scum like Susan Collins, we get to celebrate millions (billions) of amazing, talented women who now need to take their places in the spotlight of the world stage.  In our collective journey of women taking power, the midterm elections in the United States saw a number of women take seats during a decisive change in the House of Representatives.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

U.S. Representative-elect for New York's 14th congressional district.  After beating long-time machine-backed Congressman Joe Crowley, in the primary, @AOC is will be the youngest woman to serve in the US Congress, at 29 years-old.  She has arrived in Washington with promoting the agenda nicknamed the Green New Deal to address education, the environment, healthcare, immigration, criminal justice reform, the Middle East, election reform, and the criminality of the Trump Administration. She rightfully boasts the New Green Deal is as bold as the space mission.  If the Democratic Party doesn't turn on her, we may see her in Congress for a very long time.  Already, however, the machine has begun to undermine her by appointing Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), a fossil-fuels-funded congresswoman, to head the soon-to-be-revived climate change panel.  We can, however, probably expect the Democratic machine to undermine her at every turn.  When your party is led by the likes of Pelosis and Schumers and Clintons and Obamas, you cannot expect progress.  I'm doubling-down on my support of AOC and I hope you will too.

Billie Jean King

During her career, King won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles.  Although quietly active in social issues for many years, she went very public in January, in response to retired tennis player Margaret Court's derogatory remarks about gay, lesbian, and transgender people.  In 2003, King supported the renaming of the Australian Open's main court to the Margaret Court Arena.  When Court went public with her bigoted views, King hit the media circuit with a direct condemnation of her former opponent and insisted that Court's name be dropped from the arena.  Since then, King has been very public about her support of equal treatment under the law for LGBT people, and she has been a joy to watch.  While attending the US Open this year, we were floored by the reception she received during the Roger Federer match by simply stepping out of a suite, into the seats.  The reception was wild and she modestly and smilingly waved to the crowd for an extended period before stepping back inside.  King embodies the beauty and strength of a true American:  working hard, helping others, and standing-up for what is right.

The James Fields Jury

James Fields was driving his car through Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, after celebrating hatred at a white nationalist rally.  When he encountered a counter-demonstration by people who oppose his political beliefs, he rammed his car into the crowd, killing one person and injuring thirty others.  In December, 2018, a jury of his peers found him guilty of ten crimes, including first-degree murder, and recommended the sentence of life in prison.  Next up for Fields is his Federal trial on civil rights charges for which he is eligible to receive the death penalty.  For standing-up to hatred and nationalism, the jury that convicted him is one of the most important groups of people in 2018. Say her name: Heather Heyer.


Ariana Grande

At 25-years-old, she has endured a day at work that resulted in a bombing of her concert in Manchester, England, followed by the death of her collaborator and partner Mac Miller, followed by a very public and short-lived romance and engagement to Pete Davidson.  Through all this, she released an excellent record that includes the song "thank u, next." Although not a genre I generally consume, this song is much better than I would expect from someone so young, and shows a maturity rooted in a series of personal and professional experiences that nobody her age should have to endure.

Tree of Life Synagogue

Jews are under attack in 21st Century America, and it is happening amidst a dialog and tone that is suspiciously and frighteningly similar to 1930s Germany.

During Shabbat morning services, on October 27, 2018, at the synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Robert Bowers, a neo-fascist radicalized by Fox News and Donald Trump, shot and killed eleven people and injured seven others. It is the deadliest attack on a Jewish community in the United States.  Bowers was arrested.  Since he is white, however, he is not being charged with terrorism, because this is America and white people are rarely charged with terrorism, even when they are terrorists and commit crimes of terror.  The victims of the Tree Of Life Synagogue shooting are some of the most important people of 2018.

 Those killed were:

Joyce Fienberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
Bernice Simon, 84
Sylvan Simon, 86
Daniel Stein, 71
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Younger, 69

Say their names.

Arsene Wenger

Long-time manager of Arsenal Football Club ended his tenure with the club.  Although he'd won 3 Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, and the FA Community shield 7 times, he was harassed by a well-organized group of Arsenal supporters who blamed him for the club's recent lack of silverware.  What these bone-headed supporters never acknowledged or respected was that ownership cut all spending for seven years after building a luxurious new stadium in North London, and he managed to keep the team competitive the entire time.  Wenger was brilliantly dignified while under attack, and deserved a much nicer departure than the #WengerOut scum afforded him.

During his time at Arsenal, Wenger was honored as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and France's Legion d'Honneur.  He was Premier League Manager of the year three times, and once named World Manager of the Year.  Irrespective of his departure from Arsenal, Wenger remains one of the most important sports figures in history and one of very important people of 2018.

Forest Fires

In the last quarter of 2018, no fewer than 9 wildfires struck California, killing and injuring over 100 people and destroying over 20,000 structures.  If you listen to the average (stupid) American, this has nothing to do with climate change.  If you listen to the above-average American, including the scientists who know about these things:  the extreme nature and number of these wildfires is directly related to climate change. The United States, however, is a nation of climate science deniers and will do nothing about it.

Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist working for the Washington Post, was murdered at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.  Both the Saudi government and the Unites States government delivered ever-changing stories and excuses for this journalist's death.  None of the stories were believable.  What is believable, and probably is the closest to the truth, is that the Saudi government, ostensibly led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ("MBS"), planned and executed Khashoggi's murder because they tired of his critical reporting.  What is also believable is that the current Administration of the United States has decided to simply agree to whatever MBS spouts as the truth. An employee of an American newspaper is dead and the United States is doing nothing about it.

The Immigrant Caravan

The United States has become a hot-bed of fascism and white supremacy under the leadership of the current American president.  At the top of the hate list is Hispanic Immigrants, followed by African Americans and American Jews.  In what has turned into a fiasco, a group of Central American immigrants in need of political asylum because they are living in extremely dangerous and dire conditions, publicized their migration to the American media (which by and large is controlled by fascists of varying degrees), so instead of it being a mission to safety it has become a circus and sideshow for the current American president and his overlords at Fox News to use as political capital.

Never one to miss a chance to rile-up the hatred steaming inside his "christian" base, the current American president has demonized this group of mostly women and children and turned most of the country away from our need to be providers of refuge, into a mob of debating fools ignoring the basic tenets of American goodness.  We are a nation of immigrants and we need to open our doors to these immigrants.  We need immigrants.  We need these immigrants.

Favorite Surprise Record Release:

Angelique Kidjo - Remain In Light

A brilliant, faithful cover of the Talking Heads' "Remain In Light" record.  If you haven't heard it, you owe it to yourself to hear her love and admiration, her talent and voice.

Honorable Mention:

Rescue

Twelve boys were rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand this summer with the help of (literally) thousands of people.

Bradley Wright-Phillips

Star striker for professional soccer team Red Bull New York, became the MLS player to reach 100 goals faster than any other player in history.  He also led his team to the best season of any team in MLS history, with 71 points, which garnered them the Supporters' Shield (best record in the regular season).  In spite of failing to win the MLS Cup, Wright-Phillips and his team provided the most exciting season of any team in the league.

Royal Wedding

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was held at St George's Chapel, England, with an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion.  They are human and they have their short-comings, but like some rich people (not all), they are active in charity work.  When people enjoy this level of privilege, all we can hope is that they be charitable.  They are.

Spy vs. Spy

Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, in Salisbury, England.  Smart money is on the bet that Putin's gang of terrorists are responsible.

Euskadi Ta Askatasuna

Basque separatist group ETA announced they are officially disbanding after 40 years of conflict with Spanish officials that reulted in more than 800 deaths.

More Fire

A fire destroyed the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.  The loss of indigenous history is devastating.

Homosexuality

The Supreme Court of India decriminalized homosexuality.  Same-sex marriage cannot be far behind!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Boycott VISA


by Dick Mac

VISA, the credit card company, offers a card branded by the NRA (National Rifle Association).

The NRA promotes and supports unchecked, limitless private ownership of machine guns.  Machine guns are used only to commit mass murder and have been used in all of the recent school shootings in the United States.

One effective one way to stop the NRA is to boycott their corporate supporters.  If we boycott VISA, we send a message that the NRA is unacceptable to us.

Boycotts work - they always work.

#BoycottVISA


Friday, December 29, 2017

Holiday Greetings this New Years' Eve


by Dick Mac

In order to avoid offending the delicate sensibilities of "conservative" and "libertarian" Americans, for whom anything outside their realm of experience is unacceptable, I said "Merry Christmas" this season, as well as "Happy Holidays."

In reality, I have always said "Merry Christmas" and almost never said "Happy Holidays," but I added the latter to my repertoire to be part of this mysterious conspiracy from which I felt excluded. I even bought a box of Happy Holidays cards and wrote Merry Christmas inside!

I was feeling left out because "conservatives" and "libertarians" go on and on about how we all say Happy Holidays. In reality, every Christian I know says Merry Christmas and every non-Christian I know says Happy Holidays, or Shalom. It's always nice. I love this time of year, because people say nice things like that to total strangers, to each other.

Another phrase that "conservatives" and "libertarians" seem perfectly comfortable with, and have added to the lexicon, is "Grab 'em by the pussy." Not one "conservative" or "libertarian" I know has ever said it is unacceptable. They generally say that the author of the phrase only said it once and the liberal media has blown it out of proportion. Clearly it is not their pussies that have been grabbed or promoted for such grabbing. If it was their pussies being grabbed they might have more to say about it. Most conservatives are so hideous, however, that nobody I know wants to touch them, never mind grab their genitals.

I think "Grab 'em by the pussy" (instead of "Happy New Year") should be used by "conservatives" and "libertarians" for the rest of this holiday season, in order to show how supportive they are of the America they are making great again.

Now that's the holiday spirit!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 Crushes


by Dick Mac



The day after Christmas, 2017, a Twitter account I follow tweeted about acting on a crush.  It was posted by a person on whom I have a crush and it made me start to think about what this means to me six decades into life.

I looked-up the word, and found these brief definitions:

crush
/krəSH/ n. informal

  • a brief but intense infatuation for someone, especially someone unattainable . . .
  • a burning desire to be with someone who you find very attractive and extremely special.
  • an intense but usually short-lived infatuation.

Historically, I have taken action, usually flirtatious, when discovering someone with whom I am infatuated.  At this age, however, 'having a crush' on someone seems to be less about the opportunity to pursue a potential romantic interest, and is more a heartening reminder that I have great taste in human beings.

I was once in a conversation about why it is that my friends are all smart or beautiful.  You might say that's a stupid conversation, but I was much younger at the time.  I've learned that smart people are more attractive to me than closed-minded people, stylish people are more attractive to me than pretty people, and pretty people are just prettier than other people.

Yes, I do have crushes, and this is today's top ten list:

Barack Obama, politician.  One of the smartest men on the planet.  There is, apparently, no topic about which he cannot expound.  He's recently started appearing in the media again, and for that I am grateful. @BarackObama

Marcella Arguello, comedian.  The smartest woman in comedy today.  A commanding presence and unparalleled wit, combined with style and great politics.  She can be intimidating, but she is usually right. @marcellacomedy

Bettye LaVette, musician. Stylish, beautiful, and hard-working. A voice that should have been blasting from our speakers for the past 60 years.  If you haven't listened, buy a record now, then buy a concert ticket.  You will not be disappointed. @BettyeLaVette

Khiry Shelton, athlete. One of America's best young soccer players. Hard-working, charming, and handsome.  He got little opportunity to show his skills while playing in New York City, and will be missed now that he was traded to Sporting Kansas City. @KhiryShelton

John Leguizamo, actor.  One of the smartest and funniest men on the planet.  Decades into his career, he remains vital and brilliant, and still looks great. @JohnLeguizamo

Colin Kaepernick, athlete and activist.  Politics, style, and guts can be a recipe for disaster or make for a very attractive person. This guy hasn't wavered and my heart skips a beat as he continues his mission of rightousness amd charity. @Kaepernick7

Chris Hardwick, comedian.  When you watch Chris Hardwick, you can see the brilliance spinning behind his eyes; seemingly always a step or two ahead of the conversation.  And he's sorta cute. @hardwick

Justin Trudeau, politician.  When a man with a mind like his, politics that are so right-on, a smile to make his mother proud, and an ass like his, you know that you've found someone special. @JustinTrudeau

Yuka Honda, musician.  The dissolution of Cibo Matto this year reminded me how much I adore this woman.  A commanding presence on stage, a band leader whose attention to detail is obvious during performance, and now married. @YukaCHonda

Thierry Henry, athlete.  The King of France became the King of Football, in 2017.  He remains incrediibly charming, smart, and easy-on-the-eye.  Those of us fortunate to have watched him play during his career got to see one of the greatest and most creative athletes of our times. @ThierryHenry